26 May 2012

The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett

"I know where I stand now," he said, looking with friendly eyes from one of the police-detectives to the other. "I'm sorry I got up on my hind legs, but you birds coming in and trying to put the work on me made me nervous. Having Miles knocked off bothered me, and then you birds cracking foxy. That's all right now, though, now that I know what you're up to."
Nothing says good ole Americana like Dashiell Hammett's 1920s detective novel The Maltese Falcon.

Tough Sam Spade never knew how it all would unfold when the beautiful and mysterious Miss Wonderley walked into his detective agency asking for help to find her sister. When his fellow detective and business partner Miles Archer decides to follow a man Miss Wonderley identifies as the reason for her sister's disappearance, Spade never realizes that the case he takes would result in his partner's murder and a chase for an historical artifact that carries a legend centuries old.

This is just how I like my rainy day weekends. With shady characters like Gutman and Cairo, it's only Sam Spade and his code of honor, along with his tough-talking, level-setting secretary Effie who will always keep him on the straight and narrow. Dashiell Hammett's story is slick and savvy old-time detective noir and I loved every moment of it. This is what later novels of tired and smart detective stories are based on, and the formula that Hammett creates will remain timeless. After all, who doesn't love a good story of figuring out how to get the prized treasure and falling in love, all while never once breaking any ethics? I know I sure love it.

When I took a deeper dive into Dashiell Hammett's history, I found that he's just as interesting as the stories and characters he invented. After he dropped out of school at fourteen-years-old, he worked a variety of jobs before he got a job at the world-famous detective agency, Pinkerton's. Serving in both World Wars, Hammett began to write about sleuthing and was one of the major players who set the foundation for great mysteries. I mean, when you think about it, before there was some dude named Dan Brown, Dashiell Hammett was already crafting the art of true detection and legendary treasures. Sounds pretty good to me, and I think I might stick with this time period a little while longer.

I'm all about picking up The Thin Man next. Dashiell Hammett has just the right way to sweep me up into another time and place.
"We begin well, sir," the fat man purred, turning with a proffered glass in his hand. "I distrust a man that says when. If he's got to be careful not to drink too much it's because he's not to be trusted when he does."
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard, Vintage Books, a division of Random House
Release Date: 1929
Pages: 217

FTC Disclosure: Straight off my shelf, personal copy.

About the Author
Dashiell Hammett is the famous American author of classic detective noir novels The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man. Serving in both World War I and II, Hammett continued his writing and eventually died in 1961.


  1. This was made into a movie with Humphrey Bogart, correct? I bet I have this on my shelf somewhere :)

  2. Yessss! Please pick up The Thin Man next. It's so fantastic. The first few pages alone are worth it. It's very different from The Maltese Falcon, which Peppermint, is the Bogart film, but it's great.

    I grew up watching the Thin Man movies with Myrna Loy and William Powell, and I read the book several years ago. It was unbelievable how well done the film adaptation was. It actually had several installments, though there is only one book. Look them up if you get a chance. The relationship between husband and wife is so great and so progressive.

    Glad you enjoyed this one!

  3. I love The Maltese Falcon! the movie, the book! I did not know all that about the author however so thanks for sharing! Great review Natalie!

  4. I listened to this on audio and think I chose wrong... I had a heard time getting into it. I think I need to try to read it some day.

  5. Hammett is one of the literary saints for my wife and I -- we even have a framed print of him testifying in front of McCarthy. If you want more recommendations for fabu noir-y fiction from that era, let me know -- my wife and I can't shut up.

    I must echo the recommendation for The Thin Man -- another marvelous book. Gah, I have such a crush on Hammett!

  6. This sounds really good :)Someday, I will get to it :)

  7. I have never read any of Dashiell Hammett's work, but have always been intrigued by how many people seem to love it and get excited about it. You made a great case for it here today, and though I am not usually a fan of this genre, I am going to take a leap and give this one a try. Great review today, Natalie! I loved reading your thoughts on this one!

  8. I just listened to the audio version of this and The Thin Man, and if you liked Maltese Falcon, I think you'll like the Thin Man, too. Thanks for the great info on Hammett's background!

  9. I'd love to read this one and get a good does of a detective story.